How much does humidity slow a run? I can answer that question in two words: a lot. I’m getting back into long runs on Saturday and started off with a modest eight miler. My pace, to me, feels miserable and embarrassing. It was 90 degrees, with 80 percent humidity, and my skin felt coated with sweat the whole time. It also felt like I was running at a brisk pace, but that’s only because the humidity accelerated my heart rate. Humidity really does that.
I sipped an electrolyte replacement beverage the entire time from my handheld bottle. I know the basics of running in the heat: don’t do speedwork, don’t get bummed out by your pace, and stay hydrated. I remember last year, my first summer in Houston, was full of miserable runs. Back then, I wondered how would humidity slow a run. I learned that quickly. For me, the extreme humidity can add anywhere from 30 seconds to a full minute or more to my pace. And now that I have a base to build, I can’t let the humidity get in the way.
My plan to combat the life-crushing humidity and build a solid base mileage is twofold:
- Focus on the base part. I don’t think there will be any serious speedwork for a couple of months. According to Run Less, Run Faster, I need a base mileage of 25 miles per week before I can follow a marathon training plan. That works for me, since I can’t give up CrossFit.
- Stay hydrated outside of running, not just while running. Those who know me, professionally and socially, know that my vice of choice comes from the Coffea plant. Unfortunately for me, coffee is a diuretic. For every cup of coffee I consume, then, I’m planning to drink two glasses of water. I get the feeling that I’m going to be getting up from my desk a lot during the day. Good thing the upstairs bathroom is right next door to my office.
One thing that I did remember, as the humidity wrapped itself around me like a boa constrictor, is that I do love running. I loved running over the bridge and near the lake, looking at the quirky beach homes and listening to my music and the sound of my footfalls. If nothing else, marathon training will offer me plenty of moments like these, where my mind spins freely.